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Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) date, (b) location and (c) purpose was of visits by ministers in his Department to Wales since 1997; and when he next intends to visit Wales. [62074]

Dr. Moonie [holding reply 17 June 2002]: Defence Ministers have made the following visits to Wales since 1997:

2 March 1999ClwydVisit to RAF Sealand/Defence Aviation Repair Agency
7 March 1999St AthanVisit to Defence Aviation Repair Agency
5–6 June 1999CwmbranRededication of War Memorial
9 June 2000ChepstowVisit to Royal Anglian Regiment
9 January 2002St AthanVisit to Defence Aviation Repair Agency
7 August 2002St AthanVisit to Defence Aviation Repair Agency

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence plans to visit Wales in early November.


David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list external (a) public relations/communications companies, (b) advertising and marketing companies, (c) management consultancies, (d) accountancy companies, (e) banking firms,

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(f) individual consultants and (g) other specialist consultancies used by his Department since June 2001; what actions those consultancies/companies have performed within his Department; and what costs have been incurred through use of these consultancies/companies. [74678]

Dr. Moonie: The information requested is not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost. However, information on expenditure on external assistance, categorised by type of work and Top Level Budget Holder, is contained in the Ministry of Defence's annual return of expenditure on External Assistance. Copies have been placed in the Library of the House since 1996.

Equipment (Heat and Desert Conditions)

Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what performance criteria and testing procedures relating to possible use in extreme heat and desert conditions were utilised during the procurement processes for (a) the Challenger II Tank and its related AS90 self propelled gun, (b) items of military clothing, (c) C17 transport aircraft and (d) radio communication and information systems. [74649]

Dr. Moonie: Performance criteria and testing procedures during the procurement of any equipment or materiel are those required to ensure that the operational requirements set at that time are met. Amongst the criteria used is the Ministry of Defence series of Defence Standards (DEFStans). The performance of equipments that have been in-service for some time is routinely monitored to ensure that they continue to meet operational requirements.

Both the Challenger II Tank and AS90 were procured against a requirement to operate in Northwest Europe. Following the experience of Exercise SAIF SAREEA II, the ability to operate more effectively in Desert conditions is being enhanced through logistic improvements and for AS90, a Desertisation Upgrade Pack.

Military clothing must meet or exceed the relevant European and British quality standards and performance characteristics. Garments are tested for conformity and, for operational clothes, trials are conducted by the user in the required environmental conditions.

The UK C-17 aircraft is an Off-the-Shelf solution to meet the Short Term Strategic Airlift Requirement. The aircraft has been designed, developed, tested and cleared by Boeing and the United States Air Force to operate in a wide range of environments including extreme heat and desert conditions.

The main tactical radio communications system currently in use in the land environment is the Clansman family of radios and ancillaries. Designed for operations, over a temperature range of -40 to +55 degrees centigrade, in combat zones anywhere in the world, Clansman remains just as capable as it always has been to meet the requirement it was delivered against. The Design Authorities provided the temperature operating range when the equipment was procured in the 1970s.

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Ptarmigan has been the army's deployable trunk communications system since 1985 and was designed to operate in North West Europe. The three major installations, which provide the backbone of the system, operate primarily within a temperature range of -32 to +45 degrees centigrade. The Ptarmigan system was not designed for the desert environment, but the purchase of additional Generators, Air Conditioners, Thermal Screening Panels, when required, has enabled the system to operate adequately in the desert environment.

The Personal Role Radio (PRR) was first deployed in July 2001. It is designed to meet any environment in which individual soldiers could realistically expect to operate and survive. In particular within a temperature range up to +55C and in dry and desert conditions. The National Audit Office report on Exercise SAIF SAREEA II (paragraph 2.8) states that the PRR performed very well.

Armed Forces Personnel

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent progress has been made to increase the numbers of (a) engineers, (b) signallers and (c) medical services in the armed forces. [74413]

Mr. Ingram: The Armed Forces undertake numerous and varied recruiting and retention initiatives designed to improve the manning levels of all trades and specialisations which are experiencing, or which are predicted to encounter, shortfalls. Those undertaken to boost levels of engineers, signallers and medical services personnel are bearing fruit. In the Army, in the first six months of 2002–2003, RE enlistments are up 33 per cent., REME enlistments up 24 per cent., R Signals enlistments up 24 per cent. and AMS enlistments up by 7 per cent., over the corresponding period last year. These specialist groups are amongst those that are subject to close scrutiny because of the potential impact that any shortfalls might have on operational capability.

Defence Bills Agency

Mr. Michael Jabez Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the performance targets for the Defence Bills Agency for the financial year 2002–03 will be revised following the appointment of a new chief executive. [74942]

Dr. Moonie: The Department and the new Chief Executive have reviewed the targets set for the Defence Bills Agency for the financial year 2002–2003. As a result, it was decided that there was scope for further tightening of the already high standards of service provided by the Agency since its formation in 1996. The Key Targets are now as follows:

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The change to key target number 3 is an effective increase in the challenge to the Agency since previous performance was rounded to the nearest per cent.


Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how much military service personnel housing is owned by his Department in (a) the UK and (b) overseas. [54643]

Dr. Moonie: pursuant to his reply, 19 September 2002, Official Report, column 316W. The figure for housing in England, Scotland and Wales was incorrect. This figure should have read 52,600 not 2,600 as printed in the Official Report. Similarly, the number of Quarters owned or leased by the Ministry of Defence under PFI arrangements should read 7,600, not 7,000.



Mr. Purchase: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much of the assistance pledged for Afghanistan at Tokyo in January has been provided; and if she will make a statement. [74947]

Clare Short: At the Tokyo conference in January 2002, bilateral and multilateral donors pledged a total of $4.5 billion (about #2.9 billion) over five years, for both reconstruction and continuing humanitarian needs. The UK pledge was #200 million (about $285 million) over 5 years. Of the $1.8 billion pledged at Tokyo for 2002, the UN estimate that just over $1.3 billion (60 per cent.) has so far been disbursed. Humanitarian appeals are currently funded at between 75 per cent. and 90 per cent. for the larger UN agencies; however, initial estimates contained in the UN Immediate and Transitional Assistance Programme document are now widely perceived to be an underestimate, as needs are likely to increase with the coming winter.

I have increased our commitment from #1.8 million to #55 million this financial year for humanitarian and reconstruction assistance for Afghanistan. Of this amount, about #21.5 million has already been disbursed, mainly through UN agencies, the Red Cross and NGOs, for humanitarian and early recovery assistance. We have also channelled #10 million through the World Bank's Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund. Of the additional #15 million recently made available for this financial year, #11 million will help meet immediate needs, including support for the on-going refugee return programme and humanitarian requirements throughout the forthcoming winter. I have also placed a Briefing on the Reconstruction of Afghanistan in the Library of the House.

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